Friday, May 25, 2018

RP Toolz Small Circle Punch and Die

There are times when I am seeking to replicate a certain type of detail and have need of relatively small circles or discs. As is frequently the case, the military modeling community has recognized the need and already developed a solution.

Many years ago, Waldron produced two punch and die sets. One was dubbed “miniature” and the other was “sub miniature”. They were excellent tools that did the job well. Unfortunately, mine were submerged in a basement flood and the thin rods developed rust, which was not conducive to smooth operation. Compounding the problem, Waldron ceased operations, making it difficult to find replacements.

Enter RP Toolz. They produce a set that is more robust than those from Waldron, and also include a small hammer. As soon as I found out about the set, I ordered one. Unfortunately, it took about a month for the parcel to arrive from eastern Europe. Patience...

What do I use it to do? Primarily any circumstance where I need a circular disc-shaped piece of material. While I use it for many things, the two most common details are simulating the attachment portion of a grab iron, towing loop, door handle, etc., and push pole pockets.

Wire grabs (plus sill steps and scratchbuilt route card holder) on a Proto 2000 flat car)
For the attachment portion of grab irons, towing loops, handles, etc., it helps to "visualize" these details (see photo). These consist of a center portion, e.g. the hand hold portion of a grab, the loop of the towing loop, etc., plus the mounting apparatus. These are actually all one single piece of metal. However, they can be simulated with wire for the main portion plus small discs glued in place for the mounting segments, accentuated with rivets. See photos.

Ladder detail and wire towing loop on a Proto 2000 box car 
The other common use for me is to simulate push pole pockets. I add an appropriately sized disc and then use a drill bit to create a rounded depression in the center that looks like a push pole pocket.

Push pole pockets on a kitbashed Proto 2000 gondola
There are other uses, including discs for blanking off holes on the heads (ends) of tank cars, round hatches, such as on the top of steam locomotive sand boxes, clear discs for gauges in locomotive cabs, etc. Multiple discs of varying diameters may be stacked and shaped to simulate complex shapes (locomotive headlamps?). They can even be combined with square or rectangular styrene and stacked, as needed.

Yes, it's not a cheap tool, but it is one I use regularly.

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